The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association announced its plans for winter sports.
The schedule will be pushed back for all sports with ice hockey starting practice on Dec. 14 and boys and girls basketball and bowling starting practice on Jan. 11. Swimming and indoor track get their own late winter season with practice beginning on Feb. 1.
The NJSIAA also stated it would be following Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 196, which limits indoor crowd sizes, which would basically prohibit spectators from attending events.
Wrestling has now been added to the ‘season three,’ starting practice on March 1, the same time as gymnastics and girls volleyball.
The competition dates for ice hockey will be from Jan. 4 until Feb. 17, for basketball and bowling, Jan. 26 until March 6. Swimming and winter track from Feb. 16 until March 27, while gymnastics, girls volleyball and wrestling will compete from March 16 until April 24.
Ice hockey begins earlier than other sports only because the NJSIAA is taking into consideration schools having already committed to ice time for practice and games at rinks.
The competition schedule will be limited to 15 games, which includes county or tournaments. There will be no state tournaments for ice hockey, basketball, bowling, swimming or indoor track. The NJSIAA is still considering post season tournament play for gymnastics, wrestling and girls volleyball.
The NJSIAA would allow tournament play within conferences, but there still would be a 15-event limit to the schedule.
The NJSIAA will announce its plans for the Spring schedule by Dec. 11, it is expected to start after April 24, [the end of season three], but will run well into June to give athletes who compete in spring sports a full season.
“We remain keenly focused on providing New Jersey’s student athletes with the opportunity to participate in sports, and given current health date and modeling, we believe pushing the schedules back ensures the best opportunity for our kids,’’ said Colleen Maguire, the NJSIAA COO. “The staggered winter schedule is based on feedback from health officials, anticipated capacity limitations as well as the availability of facilities which are used by many of our winter sports. The hockey schedule remains unchanged due to contractual obligations with rinks and the potential for significant financial repercussions associated with rescheduling ice time.’’